Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced during a speech on Tuesday that the indictment against former President Trump included charges over an alleged “catch and kill” scheme that involved a former Trump Tower doorman who claimed to have information about Trump’s love child.
(Video Credit: USA Today)
Bragg’s office claimed in a statement of facts filed with the court that from August 2015 to December 2017, Trump and his then-lawyer Michael Cohen orchestrated a so-called “catch and kill” scheme with David Pecker, who was the CEO of magazine publisher American Media, Inc. (AMI). They are accused of concealing negative stories about Trump.
This is an old unproven story that is being trotted out once again by Bragg. The filing lists previous allegations that American Media paid former Trump Tower doorman Dino Sajudin $30,000 after he claimed to know of an affair between Trump and an unnamed woman which led to the birth of an illegitimate child out of wedlock.
“In or about October or November 2015, the AMI CEO learned that a former Trump Tower doorman (the ‘Doorman’) was trying to sell information regarding a child that the Defendant had allegedly fathered out of wedlock,” the statement of facts contends.
“At the AMI CEO’s direction, AMI negotiated and signed an agreement to pay the Doorman $30,000 to acquire exclusive rights to the story,” the document charges.
Here are the allegations from the Trump indictment regarding the hush money paid by AMI/The National Enquirer to the Trump doorman: pic.twitter.com/JcGQ8A85BW
— Katie S. Phang (@KatiePhang) April 4, 2023
It should be noted that among the rich and famous, stories are paid to go away all the time whether they are true or not, to head off bad publicity. Even if there is proof of the payment, and that’s a big “if,” it is not illegal and does not prove that the allegation is true.
Bragg’s office is asserting that AMI “falsely characterized this payment” in the company’s books and bought the story from Sajudin “without fully investigating his claims” because of the agreement Pecker made with Trump and Cohen.
“When AMI later concluded that the story was not true, the AMI CEO wanted to release the Doorman from the agreement. However, Lawyer A [Cohen] instructed the AMI CEO not to release the Doorman until after the presidential election, and the AMI CEO complied with that instruction because of his agreement with the Defendant and Lawyer A,” the statement of facts goes on to allege.
The New York Post effectively debunked this story five years ago when it reported that the unnamed woman at the center of the political frenzy “emphatically” denied that she had an affair with Trump. She told the Associated Press, “This is all fake.”
Following the 2016 presidential election, Sajudin was reportedly released from his non-disclosure agreement with AMI. Prosecutors claim that Trump was so appreciative of Pecker’s help in the matter that he invited AMI’s CEO to his inauguration and to dinner at the White House, which again, is not a crime.
“The Defendant thanked the AMI CEO for handling the stories of the Doorman and Woman 1 [former Playboy model Karen McDougal] and invited the AMI CEO to the Inauguration. In the summer of 2017, the Defendant invited the AMI CEO to the White House for a dinner to thank him for his help during the campaign,” the court filing claims.
The indictment against Trump that Bragg put forth includes 34 felony counts that are related to falsifying business records. The George Soros-backed district attorney asserts that it was all part of an elaborate “catch and kill” scheme. The charges appear specious and unless Trump is railroaded (which is quite possible in New York City), they should all be dropped.
Pecker signed a non-prosecution agreement in 2018 with federal authorities according to the New York Post. That reportedly assured him he would not face charges for his part in the payoffs. As for the falsification of business records, the statute of limitations for that charge has expired. The same should be true for Trump, by the way.
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